Have you ever made a mistake that impacted your kids and you were sure they would never recover?
This was me when I started homeschooling. See I thought homeschool should look like public school. This involved a lot of coloring, pasting, cutting and you might say “art like” activities. In turn, my children started to rebel to the point if you took out crayons or crafting supplies they either turned tail and ran or burst into tears.
It broke my heart as children are can learn and discover so much through creating art. I was sure I wrecked them for good.
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A glimmer of hope
When I returned to work and set out to balancing homeschool with working I had to set priorities. This meant I cut everything down to what was necessary, mainly we scheduled the basics such as math, language arts, history, and science.
As a direct result, my children had more free time to do as they pleased. My son started fiddling around with Photo Shop “playing” with graphic design.
My daughter however headed into an area I never dared to venture. The art world.
We would often find her flipping through books, re-creating Pinterest images on her lined notebook or watching YouTube.
This left me wondering how to develop this love of art when I had no clue where to start!
However, I was determined to find a way. Today my daughter is progressing nicely to the point where she not only loves art but it has moved into part of her “School plan” and creates art for others.
How to teach art to your teen when you know nothing about art:
Sometimes when we are faced with teaching what we don’t know, we panic. Instead, take a moment and think, how do you learn something you don’t know?
Through time, research, asking for help, finding support and getting involved. We can use those same steps to teach our children subjects we have no clue about.
Step 1: Provide time:
The first thing I did was give her free time to explore. I purchase and strewed how-to books around the house. I will admit I am not sure these ever got picked up but they are there should she desire.
I didn’t tell her to draw or create, I didn’t nag her in any way. I just let her go and showed genuine enthusiasm when she showed me.
Step 2: Research:
Research comes in many ways, sometimes we hit up our not so good friend Google and sometimes we reach out to those we know.
I wasn’t sure what she should have access to as for supplies but what I did have was a friend who is an artist. I contacted Ashley with a request, “what supplies do you recommend a middle schooler have access to?”
Ashley gave me not only a great list but also reached out to my daughter to answer questions, offer encouragement and guidance. What more could you ask for?
I am sharing the list she gave me.
Art Supplies for middle school:
“The basic first art supplies that pop into my head is pencils, they are the basis of many forms of art and a good place to start. Both colored and plain lead.
Next, or instead of colored pencils, watercolor pencils are a fabulous way to transition from drawing to painting, with the familiar feel of a pencil, but then “just add water” to get the watercolor effect! (Haha) from there, actual paints, watercolor and acrylic being my personal favs and suggestions.
For more tactile forms of art, oil pastels are lovely ways to get the feel and effect of oil painting without the nasty smells and not needing to deal with linseed oil etc.
Also, a fabulous medium to get used to blending colors and shading.
And finally, some form of clay, whether playdoh, air dry or oven bake. Excellent way to get used to thinking in 3D art forms and sometimes easier to sculpt what you picture than draw it. I chose these because they give a nice range of the basics of different styles of art, and most can be intermingled, and add fuel for imagination!”
After hearing back from Ashley we stocked a box of supplies and she got creative. It was amazing to see her experiment, research YouTube videos and more.Are you trying to teach your teen art but no clue where to start? Start here!Click To Tweet
Notice roadblocks and take action!
As time passed I noticed she was starting to be very critical of her work. As soon as she got stuck she gave up. Nothing she did was ever “good enough” and most of her work ended up in the trash or hidden away.
No matter what I did she was losing her love of art and I was lost as to what to do. I am not artistic at all. It didn’t matter how blown away I was by what she had created, she found fault.
I decided it was time to take action and get help!
I needed to find something to build her confidence but I wasn’t sure where to begin. Thankfully Crystal agreed to talk about how she juggles homeschooling with creating an online course, what was this course? Art for Teens Inspire My Artist 1.0
I got brave and reached out to Crystal, explaining what was happening and asked what she recommended. Not only did Crystal answer all my questions but she provided a suggestion I did not see coming.
First, she told me to get the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards, if she was interested in that book and did well she might be ready for her online course even though she was a bit young. Her course is focused on older children.
Second, upon my request she provided me with the following list of supplies:
Minimum for open-ended art time: Paper, pencils, and color.
“Sketch pad: My suggestion is a Strathmore 400 series drawing pad size 9×12″ I suggest that pad in particular because it has a heavier paper that stands up to more erasing, will handle multiple mediums and is good for both sketching and finished work. It is spiral bound so that it will sit open and micro-perforated so that pages can be easily removed. I choose 9×12″ because it is small enough to be portable, but big enough for detailed drawings.
When picking a drawing pad as long as it’s acid-free and heavier than 70lb, you’re good.
Drawing pencils: I choose Faber-Castell 9000. I have a tin with six pencils: HB,B, 2B, 4B, 6B and 8B. I use the HB, 4B and 8B the most and could probably be happy with just the three. They go on easy and erase easily.
In addition to pencils, I also use a knead-able eraser, a white vinyl eraser, a sanding block, and tortillions.
Colored pencils – I choose Faber Castell an oil based colored pencil. The other favorite is Prismacolor which is wax based. The two should probably not be mixed, but I’m not going to tell you that you can’t. I choose Faber Castell because they don’t break easily and if applied lightly can be erased more than Prismacolor, although they both slightly stain the page wherever pressure is used.
Other great supplies to have:
Water color paints:
I personally use student quality watercolors. Because watercolors are not my favorite medium I save on them to spend on acrylic paints, so I have Reeves tubes and my mother’s old Van Gogh tubes. If you’re getting student quality get the Van Gogh set of 12 tubes that comes with a mixing tray. Tubes are much more enjoyable than pans because the paint gets muddy in the pans. You’ll need watercolor paper.
I like Stabilo CarbOthello chalk-pastel pencils. I much prefer the pastel pencils because they offer the same results and can be blended just like pastel sticks, but without the huge mess. I use tortillions for blending and clean them on my sanding block.
For pastels, it is necessary to use a toothy paper to hold the pigment. There are specially designed pastel paper available. I like Strathmore 400 Series pastel paper pads because they contain six different color papers. I also like the Strathmore 400 Series gray scale pads for a selection of neutral backgrounds. It’s always nice to use a toned background with pastels because it looks better if any of the page shows through. If you’re going to choose just one, I would go with gray scale.
Get artist grade paints if at all possible. The only colors you need to get started are titanium white, burnt sienna and ultramarine blue. To see why so few read this post.
Paint brushes should be artist quality even if you use student quality paints. Do you want hairs in your paintings? To start with I suggest a bright size 8 synthetic acrylic artist paint brush; it’s versatile enough to be used on its own to start with. You can even fan the bristles with your finger and thumb to imitate a fan brush.”
Crystal had one more suggestion. I am going to be honest, I wasn’t too thrilled about. She asked me to do art with my daughter.
I froze. You want me to what?? I couldn’t remember the last time I picked up a pencil and drew. It had been years! I swallowed my pride and asked my daughter if she would like me to do art with her – she was excited.
Next, I asked her if she would like scheduled time added to her homeschool plan for art. She said yes. We were on a roll! Next, we discussed what she wanted in a program and started researching together.
Teaching Mom Art:
I’m going to be honest my favorite part is that I get to do this with my daughter. I usually don’t feel like doing it until I get started then I settle in and have fun.
My daughter loves that she gets to teach me. She is great at explaining and gives excellent encouragement.
I love that the program explains not only basics such as shading and contrast but we have gotten to play with molding, creating collages, color and pencil drawings.
In the end, I discovered I was right, you really can teach what you don’t know. You just need to be determined enough to find a way.
If you are trying to teach something you don’t know remember:
- Provide time
- To research
- Reach out for help
- Provide support
- Get involved
You can teach what you don’t know, even if it’s ART! Trust yourself!